As someone kindly pointed out, the new Charter does create a Commissioner of General Services position. That Charter will be effective July 2016. Frankly, we had completely forgotten about the new Charter. How something so exciting can be forgotten, we don't understand it!
So, we decided to take a look at just what the department and the position is all about. Perhaps we'll even apply.
§ C54. Department of General Services
A. Establishment. There shall be a Department of General Services in the executive branch of City government. The Department shall include a Bureau of Engineering, a Bureau of Traffic Control, a Bureau of Streets, a Bureau of Sanitation, a Bureau of Parks and Recreation, a Bureau of Buildings, a Bureau of Code Enforcement, and a Central Garage.
What can the Commissioner do?
B. Commissioner of General Services. There shall be a Commissioner of General Services who shall be head of the department and shall have supervision and control of the entities enumerated in paragraph “A” herein. The Commissioner shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council, to serve at the pleasure of the Mayor and may appoint, with the approval of the
Mayor, a City Engineer, a Traffic Engineer, a Superintendent of Streets and Sanitation, a Director of Code Enforcement., and a Director of Parks and Recreation.
Are there any qualifications for the position? Funny you should ask.
C. Qualifications of Commissioner. The Commissioner of General Services shall possess at least a bachelor’s degree in management or logistics, or an equivalent degree, from an accredited four year college or university, and shall have had at least five (5) years of increasingly responsible experience in public works administration or equivalent fields prior to appointment.
Logistics majors rejoice!
The commissioner, with approval of the Mayor, can combine certain bureaus and duties. The Commissioner can also be the City Engineer if the appointee happens to meet the qualifications to be the City Engineer.
Under the new Charter there has to be a City Engineer, a Director of Parks and Recreation a Bureau of Buildings and a Central Garage. The other positions are discretionary.
Under Section 56 of the Charter, there shall be a Department of Planning and Economic Development and there may be a Commissioner of that department. If there isn't, the Deputy Mayor can fulfill that role.
It appears that the Commissioner of General Services could have an inordinate amount of power within the administration. If you'll note, the Commissioner, with the approval of the mayor (but not the City Council) can appointment numerous individuals as well as mix-in-match bureaus and duties.
This may be the position to have if you want to control the maximum amount of the city's day-to-day business. The qualifications mandate could prove problematic. First, has anyone ever met someone who had a bachelor's degree in logistics? There could be less degrees in that discipline than in Medieval Balkan Poetry. We think they'll need to rely on the "or an equivalent degree" provision more often than not.
Also, exactly what will the Deputy Mayor do? Well, it looks like the Deputy Mayor will really be the Commissioner of Planning and Economic Development. The Deputy Mayor cannot be expected to be, essentially, a Department head and also oversee everything the Commissioner of General Services does.
Finally, as an aside, given the qualification necessary for the Commissioner of General Services, it remains doubtful that the person filling that position could also operate as Madden's political insider. That political street fighter we believe is necessary for any administration. That's the person who understands Troy City government as well as political history. Here, that can't be Madden, Glasheen, Monica K. and it's unlikely to be the Commissioner of General Services.
We could be wrong but we think Madden doesn't the gun necessary for the knife fight.
Perhaps we overestimate the power and influence a strong Commissioner of General Services may have. Does anyone else think too much power may be concentrated in this position? Does anyone care?